In continuation from my previous Busan Highlights post done in collaboration with Korea Tourism Organization, here’s the second installation: highlights from my trip to Seoul, South Korea’s capital, pride and joy!
My dream is to travel the world (don’t we all wish the same thing?), and I’m glad I could check Seoul off my bucket list in 2014. Spontaneous and impromptu trips are the best in the sense that you never saw it coming, so every experience is an adventure. Seoul is the world’s third largest metropolitan area with over 25.6 million people. My impression of Seoul is a modern city with a traditional charm, fast-paced and bustling. Around every corner, something exciting is happening. The girls all have amazing hair. The place is so massive, a mere short few days here did not even allow me to scratch the surface of the abundance it has to offer, however I did get some unique activities done and also made it a point to check out some of the most famous landmarks!
Here are some of the awesome places I managed to visit while I was in Seoul, hopefully you guys will find this itinerary useful when you plan a trip there, too!
• Dongdaemun Design Plaza (동대문디자인플라자) •
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is the newest and most iconic landmark of the Korean design industry. Located at the center of the Dongdaemun area, the DDP will serve as a key venue for design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other events and gatherings.
We were there to check out the exhibition of a super popular K-Drama series that will have some of you going crazy over!
“You Who Came from the Stars” / “My Lover From The Star” is about an alien who landed on Earth in the Joseon Dynasty and, 400 years later, falls in love with a top actress in the modern era. To those who don’t know about this show prior to this paragraph, you must be thinking… what the heck?
That was my first thought too! I can’t say I am a fan of the series because, to be honest I’ve not even watched a single episode of it yet, but I plan to give it a go once I can spare some free time! It must be so insanely popular for a good reason, right? Despite not having seen the show before, it was still fun walking around, looking at sets from the show! Cheon Song Yi’s bedroom is gorgeous. You’ll definitely wanna check this place out if you like this TV series, and be transported right into a pretty fantasy world where aliens come from the stars to romance you!
Directions to Dongdaemun Design Plaza: Get off at Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 1. Upon exiting, walk straight for about 5 min.
• Klive (K-Pop Hologram Performance Hall) •
Klive is a new place visitors can watch the biggest stars of K-Pop in hologram performances anytime – it’s one of Seoul’s newer attractions, having just opened on the 9th floor of Lotte FITIN in Eulgi-ro on January 17, 2014. You don’t actually get to see any of the stars in person of course, it’s all basically very fancy hologram effects, which was actually highly entertaining and more interesting than it sounds! Knowing not a single verse to any K-Pop song, I still enjoyed myself as the hologram performance was interactive and funny. When in Korea, do as the Koreans do!
What they lack in physical presence, they make up for with actual talented dancers to complement the crazy cool hologram effects during the show and a whole bunch of exclusive merchandise you can’t find anywhere else! I think a hologram concert is a good idea – just saying that if Taylor Swift ever had one in some part of the world I could visit some day, I’d undoubtedly pay money to see it too. The next best thing to seeing her in the flesh! It’s conveniently located in a huge shopping mall, so when your legs need a rest from all that intense retail therapy, you could stop by here for an hour.
Directions to Klive: Get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 11 or 12)
• Namsangol Hanok Village (남산골 한옥마을) •
If you get off at Chungmuro Subway Station, you’ll find yourself in front of Namsangol Hanok Village (traditional Korean village) where we get a glimpse into what life in the olden days in South Korea might’ve been like. This cultural heritage site is unexpectedly situated in the middle of the city’s tall buildings.
This village has five restored traditional Korean houses and a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule, which make it a perfect spot to take a walk. It was high summer season when I was in Korea so it was extremely warm, but during autumn, what a joy taking a stroll around here would be! A great place for photo opportunities.
These houses were rebuilt after the traditional houses of Joseon Dynasty and belong to those of various social classes, ranking from peasants to the king. The furniture in the house is situated to help guests understand the daily life of the past.
Directions to Namsangol Hanok Village: Chungmuro Station (Seoul Subway Line 3 & 4), Exit 4. Walk along Hanongmaeul-gil street for 5 minutes.
• Dongdaemun Market (동대문시장) •
Ever since its opening in 1905, Dongdaemun Market has been one of the major markets in Korea. Specializing in wholesale clothing, the market has grown large, having more than 20 shopping malls. A full range of fashion items that cover head to toe, are found in Dongdaemun Market at inexpensive prices.
Just name it and you shall find it! While we were there, we were surprised to come across peaceful (but loud) protestors roaming the streets in an orderly manner. Anyone knows what they’re protesting about?
We spent a few hours browsing through the endless amount of retail shops and I snagged some good deals for myself! We gave the wholesaler’s section of Dongdaemun a miss since we were tourists. They have so many things for you to look at and buy in the area, I could’ve spent a whole day and night shopping to my heart’s content if I didn’t have other things on my itinerary!
While some people may compare the pricing to Bangkok (another place famed for cheap shopping) saying it’s not as affordable, I would also like to add that the quality of some items in Dongdaemun are better than what you’d find in Bangkok, the price you pay just depends on what and where you buy, and whether you’re good at bargaining. I also happen to LOVE Korean fashion, and this place was sheer paradise!
Directions to Dongdaemun Market: Hop onboard Seoul Subway Line 2 Dongdaemun Stadium Station, or Line 1 or 4 Dongdaemun Station.
• Samsung Innovation Musem (삼성이노베이션뮤지엄) •
Samsung Electronics marked its 45th anniversary by opening the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon, South Korea. “The Samsung Innovation Museum brings together some of the true historical masterpieces of electronics innovation,” said CEO Kwon Oh-hyun at the opening event.
These inventions laid the technological foundation that allowed us to develop and refine products that enhance lives today. The museum gives visitors an opportunity to see where we’ve come from and also see where Samsung draws inspiration from to continue to create category defining products.
The museum features 150 inventions and products from Samsung as well as individuals and companies that have no ties with the Korean company –– an acknowledgement of its competitors.
I wasn’t hopping excited when I heard a museum was going to be on our to-do list, they generally aren’t my thing, but I was beyond blown away by how stunning the Samsung Innovation Museum was. It was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip as it was awe-inspiring and unlike any place I’ve been to before in my life.
The displays are engaging, the information provided useful and thought-provoking – I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked touring this place. I walked around with a smile on my face the whole time, struck with child-like wonder. Tech geeks, curious children and people who have a thirst for knowledge or respect for innovation would have the best time here. It’s still so new and clean, felt like we were the first guests to ever enter! The whole time, all I could think of is how much Sam would have loved to be there with me.
Credit for source of information extracted here.
Directions to Samsung Innovation Museum: Please visit their website for detailed instructions.
This South Korea trip has brought about many “firsts” for me, and it’s been nothing short of an eye-opening experience. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the first and second posts about it. I can’t wait to share the rest of my itinerary and pictures with you guys! The third installation and final post of my Busan + Seoul experience with Korea Tourism Organization will be coming your way soon, so stay tuned, and stay gold!